NYC Campaign Finance Board 5 Things by Eric Friedman
1. After yesterday’s Board meeting, the CFB dedicated its newly-renovated board room at our 100 Church Street offices to the Board’s founding chairman, Father Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J. Father O’Hare was appointed chair by Mayor Ed Koch in 1988, and served 15 years, through 2003—in the process, outlasting Mayors David Dinkins (who tried to fire him) and Rudy Giuliani (who tried to banish him to Brooklyn). His strength, personality, authority, and independence gave this agency its footing and created the conditions that allowed the city’s new campaign finance program to grow and mature into the program many people today consider a national model.
Some photos from the ceremony on Twitter.
The Board also voted on some enforcement matters yesterday, making penalty determinations for 10 campaigns from the 2013 elections – and one from the 2009 elections.
2. According to Gotham Gazette, the City Council’s Governmental Operations Committee will schedule a hearing May 2 on a package of bills based on recommendations made by the CFB in our report on the 2013 elections, published in September 2014. As we’ve noted here before, the bills will help simplify the Program for candidates, and reinforce its protections against pay-to-play money in City elections. We will devote more of this space to these bills in the coming weeks, but we are pleased to see the Council taking action to strengthen and improve the city’s campaign finance system in advance of the 2017 elections.
3. I appeared on BRIC-TV’s BK Live this week with host Brian Vines to talk about NYC Votes and out involvement in the Vote Better NY campaign to upgrade our broken, outdated election system in New York State. The agenda is simple, common-sense stuff: make it easier for New Yorkers to get registered; give New Yorkers more time to vote (including weekends); and improve the ballot to ensure every voter can cast a vote that counts. These are the fundamentals of a 21st century system that will serve all voters better.
Sign our online petition—we’re up to 3,000 signatures online—and please consider joining us on May 3for our trip to Albany, as we take this agenda to the Legislature.
4. In a strongly-worded editorial today, the New York Times recommends that the treasurer of Mayor de Blasio’s 2013 campaign not be the person to lead an investigation into potential wrongdoing by bundlers for Mayor de Blasio’s 2013 campaign.
Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters “is in a bind,” the Times writes, “even if he doesn’t see it. It’s the appearance of a conflict, something the City Council anticipated when it was considering Mr. Peters for the job.
During his confirmation hearing, Council member Dan Garodnick “asked Mr. Peters what might make him recuse himself from an investigation — say, if city campaign-finance watchdogs asked his agency to investigate problems in the campaign he had worked for, maybe things for which he was personally responsible.”
The Times continues: “Mr. Peters was straight-up in response. ‘I can tell you sitting here now I am as confident as I can be of anything in this world that there is absolutely no possibility that the Campaign Finance Board could find anything involved in this campaign, but since we’re dealing with hypotheticals, yes. If the Campaign Finance Board were to make a referral to D.O.I. involving the mayor’s 2013 mayoral campaign, then yes, for that I would recuse myself.’
“Well, the hypothetical is here. The shadow involves federal investigators, not city ones, but still.”
5. Finally this week's dose of presidential campaign reading: Donald Trump's election lawyer is former FEC chairman Don McGahn, who grew up down the road from me in Atlantic City, NJ. How does a member of "the establishment" end up helping Trump navigate his outsider's campaign through the byways of Washington DC? McGahn's uncle, also a lawyer, was Trump's Atlantic City fixer. A great read.